Review – Crystal Storm (Falling Kingdoms #5) by Morgan Rhodes

 

Crystal Storm (Falling Kingdoms #5)

By Morgan Rhodes

SummaryThe ruthless Empress Amara of Kraeshia has taken the Mytican throne, and now uncertainty looms over the three kingdoms. Since Lucia unleashed the fire Kindred, wreaking havoc throughout the land, Myticans have been looking for someone—anyone—they can trust. They believe in Amara, not knowing her grand promises are built on lies.


In Paelsia, Magnus and Cleo reluctantly follow King Gaius to the home of his exiled mother, Selia. Selia is a powerful witch and claims she can help unlock the magic of the Kindred—if the visitors agree to her terms. When Jonas arrives from Kraeshia, he is shocked to find that his rebel army now includes his sworn enemies. Along with Nic, Felix, and the mysteriously resurrected Ashur, the contentious group agrees to cast aside old grudges—for now—and united against their common enemy: Amara.

Meanwhile, bearing the child of a Watcher and feared by all, Princess Lucia travels across Mytica to find her family. But time is running out. The impending storm signals the dark prophecy Timotheus warned her about. Her fate is written, and it includes none other than the rebel Jonas. When their paths collied, Jonas and Lucia must decide between blindly following their destiny or fighting for their own free will.

The battle for power culminates at the Paelsian palace, where Amara resides. Rain pours. Blood spills. And soon all will discover that the darkest magic comes at an even darker price.

Source: I borrowed a digital copy from my library.

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Review:

Crystal Storm was full of twists and drama between all of the characters, which is quite honestly the main focus of the book. If I could describe this series in a few words I would call it a soap opera YA fantasy. It’s back and forth with the villain of the story changing and teams coming together, breaking apart, and unlikely allies form. Which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a little aggravating that each book introduces major plot twists and unlikely partnerships and crazy news and there’s never any actual closure with anything.

I think this book is on par with the other books in the series, so if you’re been enjoying the series so far, then I definitely recommend this book. 

While I don’t really understand a lot of the hype or the comparisons to Game of Thrones, I will give the series credit for being so deliciously entertaining. It’s still not the best written or most complex or even well developed, but it’s addicting enough to keeep me hooked. I already can’t wait for the next book. I flew through it and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I feel like Crystal Storm was a roller coaster when I really wanted the story to wrap up, especially after the last book. It feels a little frustrating because even more major surprises were revealed and I think some of the characters keep flip flopping and forming new connections and, while it’s always happened, I guess I was hoping we’d finally settle down, get the teams formed, and battle for the future of Mytica instead of more back and forth. I can see why the book has some mixed reviews, so I’d warn anyone invested in the series.. it doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon and this book is another sequel, not a book that brings any sort of closure yet.

Star 3

Top Ten Tuesday – Spring TBR

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Top Ten Tuesday
Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR

 

I’m still holding myself to a modified book buying ban, so these are all on my TBR already!

 

 

1. Caraval by Stephanie Garber

2. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

3. Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

4. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

5. Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

6. The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

7. Joyland by Stephen King

8. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

9. Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas

10. A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

Review – Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2) by E.L. James

 

Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)

By E.L. James

SummaryDaunted by the singular tastes and dark secrets of the beautiful, tormented young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a Seattle publishing house. 

 
But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resist. They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and Anastasia learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven and demanding Fifty Shades.
 
While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her, and make the most important decision of her life.

This book is intended for mature audiences.

Source: I borrowed a kindle copy from the library.

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Review:

I did not really care for the first book because the writing was atrocious and Ana and her inner goddess drove me crazy, but I kept seeing the movie previews for the sequel and thought it looked somewhat more of a mystery with the added girl stalking Ana. I decided to borrow a copy from the library to quell my curiosity. It was kind of excruciating to read the book. I’ve heard about how much better the series gets with time and how it’s less about BDSM and more of a romance in the later books, so I figured it had to be better than the first book. I guess in some ways it was because there wasn’t a contractual thing, which always bothers me in billionaire romance novels. But it wasn’t really a better story and it pointed out the flaws in the first book and the character even more so.

I really don’t think Christian Grey is a good love interest. Now, I’m not much for billionaire romances anyway, which is part of the problem, but Christian is completely all over the place all of the time with some of the craziest mood swings I’ve ever seen. He makes no sense to me at all. The way he handled the whole BDSM in the first book was already somewhat incorrect. While I’m not a participant of the lifestyle, I have seen enough documentaries and such to know that whatever he was doing wasn’t at all an example of healthy. And while he gives it up for the most part in book two, I think the book shows even more flaws when it comes to the lifestyle. I think the author handles it completely wrong and turns it into a psychological issue, but she even messed that up by making it something that he was able to drop almost completely, which makes no sense if it was “that easy” if you know what I mean. Also, somehow his other issues were magically solved by Ana’s magnificent presence, like the fact that she could touch him after like 4 attempts and he’s cured. I mean, sex doesn’t solve relationship problems, but even more so, it doesn’t solve legit psychological problems. Ugh. It just shows me that the author did no research. It feels like some awfully fantasy dream that she made into a novel and didn’t seem to bother to work out the kinks or explore the topics in order to better write about them.

The sequel was like trying to fit a story with a ton of plot holes into an actual romance and it just didn’t work for me. Ana was a bit less of a doormat, but still completely annoying. I didn’t count the number of Oh’s, but it had to be in the millions. There was a bit less lip biting and inner goddess mentioning, but it was still there and still just as annoying. And then she started referring to Christian as Fifty, which just seemed weird. And WHAT WAS WITH THE last names?! They kept saying Mr. Grey, Ms. Steele all of the time. Who does that? Honestly, this whole thing just seems like a really really awkward fantasy. All of that dramatic eye contact just seems prolonged to the point of weirdness. The dialogue may seem ok in your head, but if I really sit and imagine it, I cringe with the awkwardness of it all. 

Also, could she not use some synonyms for crack whore? It just seems so over the top for everyone to be full of SAT words and then throw out crack whore to describe Christian’s real mom and despite the constant references, no other words are ever used, like the author just doesn’t know what else you call those people. Again, it seems like an issue of the author simply not knowing or caring to know how to really write about that sort of thing. I mean, even the fastest writers at least jot down the overall issues and go out and research them a little bit. Even Stephenie Meyer researched how motorcycles worked for New Moon. Did E.L. James just think she was better than that? 

The more I keep writing this review the more I realize that this whole trilogy is atrocious and I’m actually a little mad that this is so popular. It’s literal trash and I mean that as a person who has been known to enjoy some super messed up alpha romance novels, even ones with legit abuse. If you’re going to write a trashy romance novel, at least be good at it. At least make it descriptive in the right places. At least give me some realistic darkness if you’re going to make flawed and dark characters. I’ve read more compelling shampoo bottles.

Star 2

Review – Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

Dear Daughter

By Elizabeth Little

SummaryAs soon as they processed my release Noah and I hit the ground running. A change of clothes. A wig. An inconspicuous sedan. We doubled back once, twice, then drove south when we were really headed east. In San Francisco we had a girl who looked like me board a plane to Hawaii.

Oh, I thought I was so clever.

But you probably already know that I’m not.

LA IT girl Janie Jenkins has it all. The looks, the brains, the connections. The criminal record.

Ten years ago, in a trial that transfixed America, Janie was convicted of murdering her mother. Now she’s been released on a technicality she’s determined to unravel the mystery of her mother’s last words, words that send her to a tiny town in the very back of beyond. But with the whole of America’s media on her tail, convinced she’s literally got away with murder, she has to do everything she can to throw her pursuers off the scent.

She knows she really didn’t like her mother. Could she have killed her?

Source: I purchased a paperback 

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Review:

Dear Daughter was a thriller sort of mystery involving a famous woman accused of murdering her mother.  An issue in her county with evidence tampering exonerated her, though much of the public was certain she was guilty. After spending ten years in prison, he decided to stay off the radar and discover what really happened to her mom based on a small number of clues that seemed out of place to her.

Janie wasn’t a good person whatsoever. She was selfish and awful and she and her mother both treated each other like crap, which is probably why she was such an easy target for everyone to accuse of murder. Her character was like that of Amy from Gone Girl, so reading Dear Daughter was like reading a story narrated by Amy. I thought it was kind of fun, but I do enjoy the occasional awful main character. If that point of view annoys you or you have issues reading about unlikable characters, Dear Daughter isn’t the book for you.

Jane was snarky and unlikable, but she did grow a bit throughout the story. She wanted to track down what happened to her mom and discovered that everything she thought she knew about her mom’s past and her own origins was wrong. It was interesting and full of twists and turns. I liked the mix of mystery and suspense… Jane was playing a tough game where she could’ve been outed at any minute, but took some leaps of faith and even discovered there might be a few people she could actually trust or befriend during her search. 

I recommend Dear Daughter. It was slightly predictable towards the end and a little annoying given that the main character was such a frustrating It girl who thought she could manipulate the planet, but it was enjoyable and kept me guessing for the most part. It was a quick read, too. Again, if unlikable narrators aren’t your thing, I would definitely skip this one.

Star 3

Review – What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

What I Thought Was True

By Huntley Fitzpatrick

SummaryFrom the acclaimed author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.

Gwen Castle has never so badly wanted to say good-bye to her island home till now: the summer her Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, takes a job there as the local yard boy. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island’s summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she’ll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen’s dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

A magnetic, push-you-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti.

Source: I received a paperback in a Yureka Book box

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Review:

I never reviewed this book when I read it last year, so this review is based on memory and I’m not writing it immediately after finishing the book like I normally do. 

 What I Thought Was True was a contemporary romance set in New England on an island where class and income level separate people. Gwen wasn’t wealthy and took on various jobs over the summer. Cassidy, a rich guy she knew, seemed to be taking on odd jobs on the island, too, and their paths kept crossing.

It was your typically rich guy and poor girl contemporary romance, but I really enjoyed it. I loved the push and pull and I liked getting to know Gwen. She was a character that I remember, even though it’s been months since I read the book. She was strong and sassy. She cared about her family. She protected those she loved. And I really liked Cassidy, the uber rich boy who maybe wasn’t as stuck up as she thought, who wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, and didn’t care if she was from the “other side of the tracks’ or anything.

This was a warm and fuzzy contemporary romance I recommend. 

Star 4

5 Things on Sunday – Words

 

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5 Things on Sunday 

Hosted by Reads and Treats

Words to Describe Your Week

 

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1. Awesome.

My husband is back from being out to sea and I’m so happy to have him back at home!

 

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2. Exhausting. 

I’ve been working more hours this week than usual.. 

 

cry

3. Stressful.

A major promotional event happened this past week at work while we are somewhat short staffed and unorganized, so it was a bit stressful.

 

sherlock thinking

4. Worrisome.

I’m moving in 4 months and my job has not yet been able to solidify a position for me in my new state. It’s too early, but I have to plan a lot now before my husband leaves again, so it’s just a lot to worry about.

 

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5. Bookish.

The March Owlcrate renewed on the first. 

The March Nocturnal Reader’s Box shipped on the first.

And I chose my Book of the Month Club book for March and it will ship next week! 

These are the things i look forward to since I’m on a variation of a book buying ban!

 

Review – RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

 

RoseBlood

By A.G. Howard

SummaryIn this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera. 

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

Source: I received a hardcover in the January 2017 Owlcrate.

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Review:

RoseBlood was the chosen book for the January Classic themed Owlcrate box and I was really excited to read it. I almost picked it up at the bookstore before realizing it might be the book in the Owlcrate box, so it was definitely a book I wanted and would’ve bought myself. The cover was gorgeous and when I opened it up, the ink was a dark red, which was stunning! It wasn’t difficult on the eyes, either. The book promised so much beauty and was based on The Phantom of the Opera.

Unfortunately, RoseBlood wasn’t as good as I expected. It had a lot of potential and drew inspiration from The Phantom of the Opera and other dark classics. Each chapter heading had a quote, with most of them from a pieces of literature that also dealt in dark themes. I was eager to escape into a rich fantasy world in a dark setting. 

Instead.. I was completely disappointed.

My first issue was that the main character, Rune Germain, was such a YA main character stereotype. (Don’t even get me started on the name Rune…) She was “cursed” with the ability to mimic opera. She could, without any practice, stand up and sing the most complicated of operas in the their original language and render a crowd speechless. However, her gift came with a price and it drained her almost completely and made her sick. She couldn’t stop the song from wanting to burst out of her, so it wasn’t an ability she could avoid. Anytime an opera caught her attention, she’d vibrate with the need to sing it. I probably should’ve just put the book down at the beginning that that was revealed. I mean, really? A poor girl with a woe-is-me attitude who is gifted with the ability to just flawlessly belt out tunes that others train years to do? Why would anyone even make a character do such a thing? I don’t even feel bad. The sickness she felt is probably still not nearly equal to the amount of blood, sweat, and tears a truly talented opera singer puts into one piece. And then she was going to go to a private school for gifted musicians and of course, didn’t want to be there and didn’t want to fit in, so of course she would gain the attention of the catty competitive girl, and bat her eyes at everyone about how it’s not her fault she’s stealing the limelight, she doesn’t even actually WANT it. That’s not a conflict I can be on board with. It’s overdone and it steals from the rest of the book that has to deal with fantasy and the paranormal.

My second issue was the narration. The book was mostly in first person narration from Rune’s point of view. I didn’t care much for her character, but I thought her narration was good and believable. But then the book shifted unexpectedly to third person POV to the mysterious gardener Rune glimpsed in the garden in the beginning. Suddenly, we were privy to his actions as he went on to reveal who he was and who he was working with. I think that immediately made me sigh out loud in frustration. I HATE when books do that. It’s so cheesy. If you cannot build a story from first person narration and make it still make sense and still reveal whatever it is you need to reveal, than don’t do first person at all. Do third person and then everyone is okay with the camera coming off of the main character and showing something she doesn’t know. But ripping me away from first person POV to show me something someone else is doing because it builds the story is lazy and I absolutely hate it. I think the entire book was written in a way that was overly descriptive, so I know the author wasn’t lazy, but her storytelling techniques were not up to par. It ruined all of the mystery and intrigue of the character!

My third issue with the story was the plot. (This is perhaps a spoiler, but let me explain why I don’t think it is.) From the very beginning, Rune’s mom takes issue with Rune being overly susceptible to superstition and nonsense and her mom doesn’t really understand or believe Rune’s talent is more of a curse or even a gift. Rune’s father was superstitious. The mom just jabbered on about it, so the whole concept was hammered on just about every page from the beginning when they were driving to the school for about the first third of the book until Rune’s mom finally left. So, Rune’s ability having a supernatural element was no surprise. And of course, it’s the key to everything. I mean, it wasn’t even unexpected. 

And of course, because the book is full of YA tropes, Rune noticed a mysterious boy who just happened to be a part of everything and together they would create a plan and fall in love and.. are you rolling your eyes yet?

What frustrates me the most is that the book had so much potential. The pieces were all there. In fact, if Rune’s gift/curse was done in a better way that didn’t spit in the face of people who hone and practice their real talents and the POV didn’t switch, it wouldn’t have been half bad. If the author didn’t rely on familiar YA tropes to draw her story together, it could’ve been really stunning. There were bits of great writing peppered throughout the book, so I know the author can write well. I suppose I just wish the story was well written as a whole. The book was not creepy or thought provoking or mysterious because it was over-told and written in a way that told instead of showed. There was no mystery, the plot was literally just written out in front of me plainly. 

I don’t recommend RoseBlood unless you’re new to YA paranormal stories that begin in some sort of private/boarding school and therefore aren’t going to notice the familiar tropes as much.. or if you just absolutely love The Phantom of the Opera enough to ignore the tropes and you just want something that isn’t the same book but contains the elements of the story you love. If none of those apply to you, it’s best skipped. I don’t regret having it, though. It’s a beautiful book that I do like looking at, so it’ll be a great Bookstagram prop. 

 

Star 2